Act quickly, and you can still apply for a council funded Senior Rail card instead of a bus pass, giving you a third off all rail trips. This choice is available to anyone who has reached their 66th birthday by 31st October 2020.
West Sussex County Council has a statutory duty to administer the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme in West Sussex. This scheme provides statutory free off-peak bus travel for eligible older and disabled people.
In addition, the council also provides discretionary enhancements to the scheme in West Sussex, including a free Senior Railcard as an alternative to the bus pass for eligible older people.
Due to the council’s financial constraints, it has been agreed to remove the free Senior Railcard offer from the scheme in West Sussex. A public consultation was carried out from 24 October until 4 December 2019 to gather feedback from passengers and others to help the council to understand the impact of the proposal.
Around 157,000 older people in West Sussex (77% of those eligible) chose to receive their free bus pass in the last financial year – but around 2,200 older people (1% of those eligible) chose to receive a free Senior Railcard instead. This entitles the holder to one-third off their rail travel anywhere in the UK.
Most responses to the consultation were against the withdrawal of the Rail Card option, but the Conservative Council has agreed to back the Cabinet Member’s proposal, which will save the Council around £50,000. Lib Dem County Councillor Morwen Millson says, “I think the removal of choice is a bad thing, as some people were choosing this option to support the cost of longer trips. However, since the Conservatives have made the decision to take away this choice, I hope that they will use the savings to protect bus services.”
The good news is that the option is available until the end of October, so if anyone hits State pensionable age between now and then, or is of State pensionable age now and not in possession of a bus pass, but would find a rail pass useful, you know what to do!
You can apply for your free senior railcard here: https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/travel-and-public-transport/rail-air-and-ferry-travel/senior-railcard/.